How To Be A Savvy Christmas Shopper

I think most of us have been there. Despite knowing full well that Christmas is on the same day every year, we are simply not ready for it. 

Each year I promise myself that I will be prepared and therefore make the whole ordeal of being “the organiser” just a bit less stressful. Guess what, it doesn’t happen. Well. It does, but not as much as I would like ideally? I always manage to improve a little but ultimately I can only do that by not embracing the Christmas crazy

With a fairly large family to shop for I need to have a plan, and here it is. My guide to living your best Christmas shopping life.

shopping arcade

Make a list – and stick to it

This is the first and most important tip. Make sure that you are buying because you want to and not out of obligation. Nobody should be forcing this on you. If your financial situation would be improved by having a shorter list then it’s time to talk to the people on your list – they may well be relieved that you did! 

Remember, it is only a bargain if you were going to buy it anyway

Join a community

There are loads of groups on facebook and websites like Latest Deals which are updated by their members with news of the best and newest bargains around. I love places such as this because it saves a LOT of legwork. 

Use Cashback sites

Just the other day I was reminded by KatyKicker to use one on a Fridge Freezer purchase I needed to make. It saved us nearly £100 and cost nothing but a minute of my time to login. You really cannot argue with a return like that! 

I always try to check 

  • Top Cash Back – Always check to see if the retailer your buying from is listed and take advantage of money back and promotional codes
  • Swagbucks – You can earn cashback on your shopping as well as taking part in short surveys.
  • Quidco – Again, another one to check out before making purchases to see if there are any savings to be had.

Use the 5 gift rule 

Something they..

  • eat
  • wear
  • read
  • want
  • need

Really simple and very effective. Use this to reign yourself in when you need to! 

Be Honest

If you are low on funds then perhaps there is a gift you could make or something you could do for the recipient instead? If you are going to offer babysitting though, do make sure you like the children in question because trust me, those babysitting vouchers WILL get used.. 

Most of all though, if it will hurt you to buy them a gift then you shouldn’t be doing it. The person you are buying for would much rather you be happy than be stressed out because of this (and if that’s not the case then you should have crossed them off your list years ago anyway) 

christmas gifts

 

Good luck with your shopping this Christmas and most of all remember that it is meant to be fun! Do what you can to take the pressure off and make sure you take time to enjoy the sights and smells all around you. 

I would love to know your tips for Christmas shopping?

 

 

Living Arrows Week 46 2019

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth”

Each week I like to (try and) link up to a series called Living arrows which is about celebrating childhood. You can find out more here

The first of this weeks photos is of Moose on Children In Need day. He had asked me for a t-shirt to wear for school. Moose was excited that they were allowed to take part and help raise a little money so off I went to Asda and this was the t-shirt I chose.

When I got home I noticed that the receipt said that it was a girls t-shirt and I just thought that it was a bit of a shame. There is nothing about this t-shirt that would make me think that it was particularly feminine. Just a grey t-shirt with kind and positive words on it – and don’t both boys and girls need those?

 

This photo of Bess needs a confession. It’s actually one I snapped last week in London but promptly forgot about until browsing my gallery today. I love that as soon as she saw the Yamaha sitting in the station she didn’t hesitate to go over and bash the keys.  I wish she had sung along too. Bess has a beautiful voice (I know I am biased). She didn’t know I had taken this photo but I couldn’t resist. She looks so happy.

 

Living Arrows

Pull My Finger Review

[AD Gifted] We were sent this product for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own

This game did not need the hard sell to appeal to 5 year old Moose. Large monkey, detachable bottoms and farting. Yup, pretty much a guaranteed hit as far as he is concerned. 

What’s in the box?

Inside the Pull My Finger box you will find 

  • a large(ish) plastic monkey called Mr Buster
  • a base board 
  • a banana spinner
  • 2 bottoms (snigger)
  • a tail
  • instructions on how to assemble and play

How do you play?

This is such a simple game to set up and play. Once you have attached the tail to the monkey and the monkey to the baseboard you are pretty much good to go. 

Play is aimed at age 4+ and you will need 2+ people to play.

The play starts when player 1 spins the banana. Whatever it lands on is what the player must do. If, for example, the banana lands on a 3 then the player must pull the Monkeys finger 3 times. As well as instructing how many times to pull the Monkeys finger, the spinner also might land on another option such as reverse the order of play or miss a turn or choose another play to take their turn. 

Which each pull of his finger the Monkey’s bottom inflates. When it becomes fully inflated it farts. The aim of the game is to not be the person who makes the Monkey fart! 

pull my finger

What did we think? 

The farting was, of course, absolutely hilarious to Moose. I can’t pretend that there was much educational value but you do have to count how many times you pull the finger, so there is that. Arguably though you are not buying this game for anything more than a bit of fun – and on that score it delivers. 

The only thing I wasn’t massively keen on about this game was that once you fix the Monkey to the base there is no way of disassembling it so it won’t fit back into it’s box. 

A great selling point is how fast this is to set up and play. Moose could easily play this with a friend without any adult help really which makes it quite unique in that sense. 

Pull My Finger retails at around £15 and is available from Smyths Toys

Belly Bashimi Review

AD This product was sent to us for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own

Belly Bashimi is definitely not the sort of game we would usually select in a toy shop. We tend to lean toward the sit down board game when we are looking for something we can all play together. Belly Bashimi is definitely NOT that sort of a game

Moose was instantly drawn to the game as soon as he saw the box. Adorning the front of it is an illustration of a Japanese Sumo wrestler – cue plenty of questions about what that was and a couple of YouTube videos when, frankly, I realised I know precious little about Sumo.

What’s in the box?

Inside the Belly Bashimi box you will find instructions, sushi counters, a spinner, two inflatable bellies and a foam ring to put together. The bellies can deflate and the foam ring comes apart so that it can be packed back into the box when finished.

How do you play it?

The very first thing you need to do is to connect the foam tubes together to form a ring. This is really simple and I recommend getting a child to do it. It will help with their coordination (probably).

Next you need to scatter the sushi counters inside the ring. I have illustrated what I mean with a pic but frankly the house was a tip so I made the ring smaller. So, yeah,like this, but bigger. Make sure the counters are face up.

The Bellies come with an elasticated strap which fixes with velcro. We found this to be slightly problematic for the younger ones as the straps are all a little long. We got around this by having them hold their bellies in place. They didn’t seem to mind.

When your bellies are in place it’s time to play. Player 1 spins first. Wherever the spinner lands, that indicates where the players feet should be placed. Then you have to bounce the other players belly to knock them out of the “ring”. It’s best of 3 to find the Belly Bashimi champion.

What did we think?

Well it was definitely something new for us. It was great fun though! I think it will be a great game for Moose to play with his cousins – the trouble we had was that nobody was the same height as Moose so it made it a bit difficult.

Belly Bashimi was quick to set up and easy to play. Moose loved it and we will definitely be getting out on rainy days!

Belly Bashimini is available at Very and other retailers.

 

Screen time and me.

AD this is a collaborative post

Being a parent is a funny old game. You worry about everything. A neverending list of potential issues have to be on your RADAR. If you aren’t on alert then you might get blindsided and franky, who has time for that?

We risk assess everything for our families constantly to ensure that good choices are being made and so that those balls we all juggle are kept in the air. To keep our spouse and our children safe and well. 

What about us?

Who amongst us is guilty of not taking a moment to risk assess ourselves? I know I am. When Vizulize asked me to examine my screen time habits, it got me thinking. 

How much is too much? When should Mums and Dads switch off?

My mobile phone is the first thing I reach for in the morning (usually to check what ungodly it is I have been woken at this time) and then it pretty much stays close all day. I use it far more than I don’t. It is also the last thing I use at night. My business is conducted online so I have to have my phone and my laptop for that. I write using my laptop. I spend massive chunks of the day browsing social media. 9 times out of 10 I will catch up on the news and current events online so that’s more screen time. Not to mention watching programmes and clips on the go. 

Vizulize have created a #screentimestats infographic and it makes for interesting reading

Vizulize - ScreentimeStats Infographic

What can I do?

It makes sense to me to want to be more present. I frown upon my children spending too much time looking at screens so why shouldn’t I apply the same rule to me!? (well, mainly because as a parent I also reserve the right to be a hypocrite…) 

So, here is the plan. 

I have set myself family hours. Being a work from home self employed Mum means that working hours are hard to set so I have gone the opposite way. That is, I have assigned hours during which I will not engage with work. So, between 4 and 8 every week day the laptop will be off and my phone will be in my bag. This will allow me to be present and engaged with Moose and Bess after school. I will also set up my alarms and alerts for the following day, 90 minutes before I go to bed so I have screen free time then – I recently signed up to Audible so that’s how I will spend that time. Wait, am I old now?!? 

This doesn’t sound like much but honestly I know it will make a massive difference. Social media is great to a point but it can easily make you feel like crap if you let it. Add to that the actual physical repercussions of spending too much time at a screen – dry eyes, headaches, numb bum.. and I feel like switching off is the only way forward.